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How We Teach: Freshman Introduction To Chemical Engineering

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Chemical Engineering Education: Underclass Years

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.658.1 - 15.658.36



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Paper Authors


David Silverstein University of Kentucky

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David L. Silverstein is the PJC Engineering Professor and an Associate Professor of Chemical & Materials Engineering at the University of Kentucky. He is assigned to the College of Engineering’s Extended Campus Programs at Paducah, Kentucky. Silverstein received his B.S.Ch.E. from the University of Alabama in 1992, his M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1994, and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Vanderbilt in 1998. He is the 2007 recipient of the Raymond W. Fahien Award for Outstanding Teaching Effectiveness and Educational Scholarship.

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Margot Vigeant Bucknell University

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Margot Vigeant is Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Associate Dean of Engineering at Bucknell University. She is very interested in first-year engineering education.

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Donald Visco Tennessee Technological University

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Don Visco is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Tennessee Technological University, where he has been employed since 1999. Prior to that, he graduated with his Ph.D from the University at Buffalo, SUNY. His current research interests include experimental and computational thermodynamics as well as bioinformatics/drug design. He is an active and contributing member of ASEE at the local, regional and national level. He is the 2006 recipient of the Raymond W. Fahien Award for Outstanding Teaching Effectiveness and Educational Scholarship as well as the 2009 recipient of the National Outstanding Teaching Award from ASEE.

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Donald Woods McMaster University

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Donald R. Woods is Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at McMaster University. He received his BSc from Queen’s University, his MS and PhD from the University of Wisconsin and worked for a seven different industries before joining McMaster University in 1964. He was an Athlone Fellow (1961), a C.D. Howe Fellow (1970), a HERDSA Fellow (1985) and a Japan Science Fellow (1998). He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering. His research interests are in process design, cost estimation, surface phenomena, problem-based learning, assessment, improving student learning and developing skill in problem solving, trouble shooting, group and team work, self assessment, change management, and lifetime learning.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

How We Teach: Freshman Instruction in Chemical Engineering


The authors present the results of the first survey in the resumption of the AIChE Chemical Engineering Education Special Projects Committee series of annual surveys on how chemical engineering courses are taught. The survey is now conducted by the AIChE Education Division. This year’s survey focuses on the freshman engineering courses and details how freshmen are introduced to engineering, what topics are taught, in what environment they are taught, and how they are assessed. Teaching methods and novel approaches are focus elements of this survey. While the survey focuses on courses specific to chemical engineers, innovative teaching methods in general introduction to engineering courses are included as well.

1. Introduction The former Education Projects Committee of AIChE conducted a series of surveys and studies of how chemical engineering is taught across Canada and the United States between 1957 and 1994. The topics covered by those surveys and related reports ranged from course-specific curricular issues to broader surveys on topics like professional registration, problem solving, electives, and the curriculum as a whole.

The newly formed Education Division of AIChE recognizes the importance of these surveys to chemical engineering educators and programs as they seek to improve the quality of teaching. The surveys do provide basic information about the courses (topics covered, textbooks used, hours taught, etc.) but are intended to expose innovative and effective approaches to teaching the courses to benefit the broader community.

The 2009 AIChE Education Division Survey focused on introductory courses specifically for chemical engineering students.

2. Method This year’s survey was implemented online using the open source survey software package LimeSurvey ( The questions were designed to generate statistical demographic data, ABET assessment/evaluation data, and examples of effective teaching methods in use. A request was sent to all 158 department heads and chairs in Canada and the US to solicit a response from the most appropriate faculty members in their program. From the population of 158 schools, responses were received from 49 schools (31%). Multiple responses were received from several schools, resulting in a total of 59 responses. A print version of the survey is included as Appendix B.

3. Survey Summary The first year experience, with emphasis on the Chemical Engineering activities, is characterized by great variety. That variety is based on the fundamental difference in philosophy as to whether year 1 has common content for all branches of engineering or discipline specific programs begin in year 1. For the former, many imaginative ways have been introduced to allow students to gain an understanding of the uniqueness of the disciplines.

Silverstein, D., & Vigeant, M., & Visco, D., & Woods, D. (2010, June), How We Teach: Freshman Introduction To Chemical Engineering Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15949

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015